“School Pumpkin Carving Party—Bring Really Sharp Knives!” Okay, the flyer actually said “Bring carving equipment,” but how often do you get a memo from your kids’ school instructing you to bring sharp instruments? And something has to happen when you pair really little kids with really sharp instruments, lots and lots of sugared snacks, and really tired parents, right?
As my family walked into the school cafeteria I felt like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind observing the Confederate wounded. The fluorescently-lit landscape electrified the endless columns of gorged pumpkins; their stringy anatomical remains being pulled and shoveled into indiscriminate piles of useless discarded organs; amputated craniums beginning to brown and bleed their pulpy mucous into the print of last Sunday’s newspaper—I was standing in the middle of one big orange autopsy.
Eager to decapitate our perfect pumpkin, we squeezed ourselves into a small space at one of the lunch tables. Kids all around me were stabbing their pumpkins with serrated knives while parents chatted. As I knelt down to retrieve something from my purse, my eyes met the eyes of a three-year-old Asian boy swinging two knives around the perimeter of my head like a spasmodic samurai—parents nowhere in sight. Luckily, I’ve watched enough reality cop shows on Spike TV to know how to handle this situation. With authority I said, “PLEASE PUT DOWN THE KNIVES.”
He smiled and hissed, “Ninja, Ninja, Ninja…” in a voice that sounded like it came straight from the bowels of hell. This never happened on COPS. Fear overtook me; however, from my crouched position I had an unobstructed view of my husband’s feet, and all I could think of as my little Ninja decided to try his hand at juggling his steel blades was, “He wore those shoes? I thought I put them in the bag going to Good Will!” The sound of steel tap dancing dangerously close to my left ear returned my attention to my little knife juggler. Slowly, yet deliberately, I reached into my bag and pulled out a lint encrusted strawberry banana Laffy Taffy and dangled it before Little Ninja to tempt him into submission. Understanding the art of the artificially sweetened deal, he dropped his swords, grabbed the candy, and took off.
Relieved, I turned my attention to my husband as he butchered the pumpkin we had picked last weekend. Grunting, sweating, lips moving in a silent swear; his face that perfect shade of apoplectic red that screams, “My blood pressure is dangerously high!” my hunka hunka burning love gave me that look that only lovers with children give each other, and my heart thumped as I read the message his eyes were sending me, “This was your ******* idea; family night, my ***! I blew him a kiss with my middle finger. Ah, love!
As I was looking for my children, I saw a group of two-year-olds who attend my mommy and me classes sitting in a cozy circle on the linoleum floor. I bent down to their level and noticed that one of them had gotten their hands on a small orange dollar store “Made in China” pumpkin knife. Being what I would call “The Toddler Whisperer” I read the look on their faces and I started to sweat profusely. In my head, I could hear their untrained voices telling me that they were sick and tired of singing the same old stupid songs in my class. I could hear the one with the knife saying, “Hey Miss Annie, look at me ‘I’m a little tea pot short and stout…just tip me over and…” slash goes the pumpkin knife into my ankle. Another one saying “Hey, pssst…Miss Annie…“The itsy-bitsy spider crawled up the…” slash the pumpkin knife goes into my knee. Yet another Lilliputian voice, “Hey Miss Annie, how ‘bout I carve a pumpkin face into your not so little red caboose?”
All around me echoed the scrape of knives; the whines of over-tired children; the mutterings of my unenthused husband. The putrid stench of decaying pumpkin carcasses assaulted my senses. It was then I realized I know where the wild things are.
Next Week: Lost in Translation